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A skilled and experienced breach of contract attorney is crucial if you want to achieve your desired outcome. If you need to resolve a dispute involving a contract the civil litigation team at Elkus & Sisson, P.C. can help.
At the heart of virtually every business transaction in Colorado, and across the country, is a contract. Generally, a contract is considered to be a voluntary agreement between two or more parties, and this agreement is typically memorialized in writing, but can be spoken.
There are a myriad of situations where having a valid contract is prudent, whether the contract pertains to the sale of items, or pertain to the performance of a specific service.
If something occurs that prevents the terms of the agreement from being completed, a contract can assist either party by utilizing the terms of the contract to try and achieve an amicable resolution.
What exactly is Breach of Contract?
When a party to a contract fails to perform under the specific terms of the agreement, a breach has occurred. The breach may be related to not paying an agreed price, failure to deliver items, failure to pay rent, and so forth.
Required Elements in a Breach of Contract Claim
The elements necessary for a plaintiff to prevail in a breach of contract claim in a Colorado court include:
- Evidence that a valid contract exists between the plaintiff and the defendant;
- Evidence that the plaintiff substantially performed the duties they agreed to in compliance with the terms of the contract;
- Evidence that the defendant failed to perform their duties as expressed in the contract.
- The plaintiff can present evidence that they suffered harms and losses and they are entitled to seek recovery of those losses as a proximate result of the defendant’s breach.
Common types of Breach of Contract
There are an array of different contract breaches that are litigated in courts throughout Colorado. Here are some common examples:
- The seller of a home failed to disclose a material defect with the property;
- An employee is fired in violation of the terms of an employment contract;
- Fraudulent transfer of assets; and
- Violation of a non-compete clause in an employment contract
A common case
One of the most common transactions where a breach of contract can occur involves landlords and tenants. For example, when someone leases an apartment, they generally sign a contract stating the terms of the rental, such as the rental period, amount owed each month, and so forth. If a tenant vacates the apartment prior to the expiration of the lease, a breach may have occurred. Another example is where the landlord agrees in the contract to make repairs to the apartment but fails to do so. In that instance, a breach of the rental contract may have occurred.
Damages that can be awarded
If you prevail in a breach of contract claim in Colorado, you can pursue damages for a monetary amount that will “make you whole” (i.e. place you back in the position before the breach occurred). However, it is important to understand that Colorado adheres to the “economic loss” rule. This rule sets forth that a plaintiff can only recover economic damages and the types of damages agreed between the parties within the specific terms of the contract.
Defending breach of contract cases
If you are accused of breaching a contract, you have options to defend yourself. For example, a party alleged to have breached a contract can take issue with any of the elements contained within the plaintiff’s claim. There are also several affirmative defenses that can be raised to challenge the viability of the breach claim.
One potential defense is determining whether the plaintiff failed to mitigate their damages. When two parties have a contract together and one party breaches the contract, the other party has a legal duty to take reasonable steps to limit (i.e. mitigate) the accumulation of additional damage.
Another potential defense to a breach of contract claim is highlighting the plaintiff’s failure to perform the terms under the contract.
Even if the plaintiff meets all of the required elements of a breach of contract claim and there are no viable affirmative defenses, a defendant could still have the claim thrown out if the breach claim was not filed within the applicable statute of limitations. Specifically, the Colorado legislature enacted a statutory period where a plaintiff is able to file a lawsuit for breach of contract.
If a plaintiff fails to file a lawsuit within this statutory period, they generally lose their right to pursue a recovery. Under Colorado law, a breach of contract lawsuit generally must be filed in a Colorado court within three years, commencing from the discovery of the alleged breach, pursuant to C.R.S. § 13-80-101.
Speak to an Experienced Breach of Contract Attorney Today
If you are looking to legal representation to file a breach of contract claim, or you are aware that you may be subjected to a breach of contract lawsuit, contact Elkus & Sisson, P.C. today to set up your free consultation.